Fourteen years of dreissenid presence in the rocky littoral zone of a large lake: Effects on macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity

Ted Ozersky, David R. Barton, David O. Evans

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31 Scopus citations


Establishment of dreissenid mussels in aquatic systems is often accompanied by major changes in the abundance, diversity, and community composition of benthic invertebrates. However, few studies have been published that address the effects of long-term dreissenid presence on the littoral benthos inhabiting hard substrata in lakes. We present the results of a depth-stratified, quantitative survey of littoral benthos conducted at 4 sites in 1993, just before dreissenid invasion, and in 2008, 14 y after the establishment of dreissenids in Lake Simcoe, Ontario. Average densities of nondreissenid invertebrates were 45× greater in 2008 than in 1993. Amphipods, isopods, chironomids and oligochaetes underwent the largest increases in absolute abundance. The taxonomic diversity of the benthic invertebrate community (α diversity) increased significantly. Community structure was more similar within and between depths and sites in 2008 than in 1993, a result implying lower β diversity of the postdreissenid littoral benthos. In addition, fewer differences were found in the densities of organisms between sampling locations in 2008 than in 1993. We suggest that dreissenids increase resource availability to benthic organisms and homogenize the littoral benthos by increasing the evenness of the distribution of food and physical-habitat resources across sites and depths. The transformation of the littoral benthic community of Lake Simcoe reflects a major change in the distribution of energy in the lake and is consistent with a dreissenid-mediated redirection of production from the pelagic to the littoral zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Lake Simcoe
  • benthic invertebrates
  • diversity
  • dreissenid mussels
  • invasive species


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